ODOT: Crashed semi will stay in Columbia River off I-84 another - KPTV - FOX 12

ODOT: Crashed semi will stay in Columbia River off I-84 another night

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A semi that hit an SUV and careened off Interstate 84 into the Columbia River will spend another night in the water, ODOT officials said Tuesday.

Authorities said they are concerned about mitigating fuel spills and will need to remove thousands of pounds of rolled oats from the trailer before they can pull it from the river.   

The crash happened around 5 p.m. Monday on the westbound side of the freeway just east of Corbett, and sent three people to the hospital.

Oregon State Police said the truck driver was looking in her mirrors and attempting to change lanes when she smashed into a disabled SUV on the shoulder of the road. Two people were in the SUV. Good Samaritans helped free the woman from the frigid waters and she was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The two men in the SUV were also taken to the hospital, but they are expected to be OK.

Fifteen hours after the crash, hazmat crews used a boat to put a boom around the truck.

ODOT spokesman Dave Thompson said a very small oil slick was briefly spotted in the river Tuesday morning, but authorities believe it originated from the fuel cap, and said the tractor’s fuel and oil tanks remain sealed.

After assessing the damage and the precarious position of the truck, ODOT announced it would delay the removal work until Wednesday morning.

According to officials, the company that owns the semi hired a towing business to retrieve it, but the removal, traffic and environmental plans have to be approved by ODOT before the work begins. 

Drivers can expect delays on westbound I-84 during the work that is set to begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday. ODOT reported one lane would be closed east of Corbett for about a mile for most of the day. Several intermittent full closures could take place when large pieces are being lifted to the level of the highway. 

FOX 12 asked Kent Kalsch, ODOT transportation manager,  about the biggest challenges to remove the semi.

“The diesel and oil in the tractor – the oats are oats,” Kalsch said. “Hopefully they won’t get wet because then they’ll just balloon up and float down the river like a big blob. So our concern is to safely remove those when they’re still in the sacks and not get a bunch of debris on the shoulder, and to get the tractor out without rupturing any tanks.”

It’s unclear at this time if the truck driver was cited or charged in the case. 

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